What do you know about Bournemouth and its buzzing sci-tech scene?
Bournemouth might not be as well known as the major sci-tech cities, but it has adopted the nickname of Silicon Beach (not to be confused with LA’s version) for a reason.
Bournemouth and the neighbouring Poole and Christchurch make up quite an impressive area when it comes to a healthy sci-tech scene.
Uniquely, its pull isn’t necessarily for cheaper accommodation costs, but for its beach-fuelled lifestyle.
With seven miles of glorious sandy beaches, it has been tempting top talent from the world of technology for years, and this sector is growing fast.
A mixed economy
I spoke to Hays’ Martin Pardey, who is based in Bournemouth, to find out what exactly is breathing life into the south-east Dorset conurbation.
“Bournemouth has had a long history within financial services, and a lot of technical businesses have been born out of that industry,” he said.
“We’ve got a mix of fintech, software companies and a big digital agency sector.” Indeed, Pardey said that Bournemouth could have as many as 400 digital agencies based locally.
But digital agencies and finance aren’t the only strong tech sectors that Bournemouth can boast. Pardey also talked about the growing strength of aerospace, engineering and software development as well as steady growth in professional services. “We’ve got quite a mixed economy,” he said.
With Bournemouth rising through the ranks as a global tech hub, you will see a number of big names within the sci-tech and finance space based there, including JP Morgan, Siemens, Liverpool Victoria and aerospace giant Cobham.
With such expansion, a push for the start-up ecosystem is also developing fast. This includes such workspaces as Barclays Eagle Labs and This Workspace as well as investment groups and accelerator programmes.
At the heart of Bournemouth, there are two main universities: Bournemouth University (BU) and Arts University Bournemouth (AUB). While BU is renowned for cybersecurity and applied computing on the tech side of things, AUB is well known for computer animation and visual effects, lending itself to an extremely creative side.
The innovative nature of AUB is a likely source for the sheer volume of creative and digital agencies within the locality. “We tend to have a lot of people who set up their businesses straight out of university and grow them from there,” said Pardey.
According to the Tech Nation Report released in 2017, nearly 16,000 people are employed in digital technology, with an average advertised digital salary of just below £40,000. Additionally, 26pc of digital tech businesses in the area are classed as ‘high-growth’.
Bournemouth also plays host to impressive tech events and collaborations as well as a large collection of tech meet-ups. The BFX Festival is a week-long event designed to celebrate visual effects, animation and games. Digital Wave is for those who want to get into the skyrocketing industry of digital agencies.
Late last year, the Dorset Cyber Alliance was launched to protect and support Dorset businesses. The alliance has input from a number of institutions and government bodies, including BU’s cybersecurity unit.
While digital agencies probably make up Bournemouth’s strongest industry, it’s safe to say that the entire area is growing significantly as an international sci-tech hub, with much more to offer tech talent – especially when it comes to a little slice of beach life on the UK coastline.
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